Chanel Heads to the Himalayas
By Anne-Marie Guarnieri
Chanel’s new Sublimage Essential Revitalizing Concentrate utilizes the golden flower of the Himalayas
Paris is a long way from the village of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas—more than 4,500 miles—but Chanel did its best to bring a little of the mountain region to the City of Light during a recent visit. The occasion was the launch of Sublimage Essential Revitalizing Concentrate ($425), the latest addition to the Sublimage skincare range, whose star ingredient is the “golden flower of the Himalayas,” also known as Magnolia champaca.
Xavier Ormancey, a chemical engineer and Chanel’s director of active ingredient research, first learned about the plant when he visited Ladakh five years ago. Growing at an altitude of 3,000 meters, the golden flower is an essential ingredient for practitioners of amchi, a branch of traditional Tibetan medicine that uses more than 2,200 plants in its practice, all of which are indigenous to Ladakh and many under the threat of extinction.
Ormancey learned that local amchi doctors were using the golden flower to treat a variety of concerns, including inflammation reduction and the elimination of toxins, leading him to determine that its properties could be effective in a serum to prepare the skin to better receive the benefits of antiaging treatments. Through a proprietary process called polyfractioning, Ormancey was able to extract the flower’s esters, creating Golden Champa PFA, an extremely pure form of its active molecules. “The idea is to catch the best from the plant, as natural and integral as it was in the living flower,” he says.
Working with the amchi doctors and learning about their medicinal plants also led Ormancey to create a partnership between Chanel and a local nongovernmental organization, the Ladakh Society for Traditional Medicine. With support from Chanel, the LSTM’s goal is to preserve amchi heritage, create conservation sites for the medicinal plants and protect them against aggressive harvesting.
“It was not just about creating a supply channel for this plant. It was also taking into account environmental, cultural and social stakes,” Ormancey says. “All of our plants are coming from cultivations—nothing from the wild. We work locally with the people to make sure the working conditions are good. It was not so easy, because it was in the Himalayas, but we did it.” Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave.
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